As a trainer, I have heard many myths from women about why they do not want to lift weights. One of the most common misconceptions is that they will “bulk up” and gain weight. While this is somewhat true initially, the muscle that a woman is putting on will eventually help to burn off the excess fat. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), knowing your body type is important when designing a strength training routine.
“We are predisposed to respond to exercise in a particular way, in large part, because of our genetics. Our genetic makeup determines what types of muscle fibers we have and where they are distributed. It determines our ratio of testosterone to estrogen and where we store body fat. And it also determines our body type.”
According to ACE, all women fall under one of three body classifications or have characteristics from one of these types. The determining factor in classifying body types is the percentage of the hormones testosterone as compared to estrogen. Where on our body we are pre-disposed to storing body fat also plays a role.
ACE described the characteristics of each body type in this way: “Mesomorphs tend to be muscular, endomorphs are more rounded and voluptuous and ectomorphs are slim or linear in shape. Mesomorphs respond to strength training by building muscle mass much faster than their ectomorphic counterparts, even though they may be following identical training regimens. Endomorphs generally need to lose body fat in order to see a change in size or shape as a result of strength training. Ectomorphs are less likely to build muscle mass but will become stronger as a result of resistance training.”
I can speak to my experience as a lifelong endomorph who has had significant results after weight training. I did however also do quite a bit of cardiovascular activity to burn fat, but it was when I added in the strength training that I saw significant results. I tell you this, because I do not want fellow endomorphs to think they will “bulk up” from lifting weights.